Jun 26, 2016 5:07 PM


For over 100 years, Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club (SBPRC) has provided a world class polo facility for polo patrons, professionals, and amateurs of all levels. With an attractive location between the Carpentina Foothills and the Pacific Ocean, the club offers an unparalleled location for adrenaline filled competition amongst players and their mounts. Santa Barbara Polo Club proudly offers high quality polo for all levels of players on amazing fields. Their longevity is something they are, and should be, very proud of.

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SBPRC is one of the oldest continuing member clubs of the United States Polo Association, having been established in 1911. From the 1920s to the mid-1930s, polo horses and players from all over the country visited the club via railroad stock cars. The horses would walk from the station through downtown Santa Barbara to the club. Unfortunately, the Great Depression took its toll on polo, forcing the owner of the facilities, Major Fleischmann, to sell his grand complex. A small group of individuals purchased the ten parcels for a total of ten dollars each with the intention of safeguarding polo in the Santa Barbara area.

santa barbara jayne mansfield polo
<p><em>Actress Jayne Mansfield spends a day at Santa Barbara Polo Club, circa 1960's.</em></p>

The onset of World War II brought playing at the club to a halt. For four years, soldiers were trained and stationed at the polo fields. The wear and tear proved to cause great damage to the fields and only the most devoted players continued. During the 1960s, the ownership of the club changed hands many times. Rudy Tongg of Hawaii, brought the prestigious U.S. Open Polo Championship® to the club in 1963 and 1966, sparking interest in the sport once again. Robert Skene, a former 10-goal player, leased the facility and began renovating the fields to increase participation in the sport. During this time period, the condominiums and tennis facilities were built and the entire polo facility was overhauled, creating stabling for 350 horses, an exercise track, three grass fields and a stick and ball field. In December of 1975, trustees Dr. Norman Ringer, Kenneth Walker and Ambassador Glen Holden took control of the club.

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Santa Barbara Polo Club offers over six months of polo each year at a variety of levels. Their season begins in mid-April where local California players are invited to play in casual club chukkers before the start of the spring season. Their 12-goal season runs from May to June, followed by their prominent high-goal season in July and August. Their upcoming high-goal season is truly something to watch. They have a field of intensely competitive 16-goal teams vying for the Belmond El Encanto Polo Classic, Maserati USPA Silver Cup, Nespresso USPA America Cup and Gulfstream Pacific Coast Open.

santa barbara polo

The Gulfstream Pacific Coast Open is the highlight of the summer season, and is the only Open tournament on the West Coast. Traditionally played up to 20-goals, last years teams were 14-goal handicapped teams. Unlike other major polo tournaments that move from one club to another, the Pacific Coast Open continues to be held at SBPRC each year.

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In addition to their popular summer polo season, Santa Barbara Polo Club’s polo school is equally as attractive. The school is run by thirty-year polo veteran John Westley and his wife Wendy. Westley's knowledge of the sport, light hearted attitude, and emphasis on safety provides an atmosphere in which students of all levels can develop their skills with confidence. New riders and players begin in the safety of the newly renovated arena. Once they have developed proper riding skills, they are then able to take lessons on the grass, all while riding the polo school’s wonderful string of ponies. Westley gives private lessons, group lessons and coaches clients through the "Coaching League" held on the grass every weekend during the summer season. Mid-week arena chukkers, provide an opportunity for new players to put their newly acquired skills to the test. In addition, Westley coaches successful Intercollegiate and Interscholastic polo teams in the winter. He holds back-to-back National Intercollegiate Championship titles in 2013 and 2014 with Westmont. Two of John’s former students, Team USPA members, Patrick Uretz and Remy Muller, were on the USA FIP team in Chile last year.

santa barbara polo

An exciting feature about SBPRC is the fact that a player can learn in the arena and the coaching league while being surrounded by high-goal polo players. Professional players often lend their expertise in the Coaching League. The club also operates many cross over programs with other clubs such as Central Coast Polo Club and California Polo Club. Many of the amateurs at Santa Barbara progress from Coaching League to Pro Pool. Jake Klenter and Charlie Walker, are examples of Santa Barbara Polo School success stories, both former students who now compete in 12-goal polo.

santa barbara polo ponies

The club’s Pro Pool League runs concurrently with the 12-goal and high-goal seasons. The fall 8-goal tournament series begins the first weekend in September and runs five weeks through the first week of October. They also host a WCT Ladies Tournament in September. Over the course of 2016, nine Team USPA members will have played at the Club. Developing young players is crucial to the sport of polo. The Uretz family and the Linfoot family each host a fun youth tournament during the 16-goal season with four levels of young players.

The Santa Barbara Polo Club has even more to offer beyond their world class polo facilities. There are 141 condominiums, eight tennis courts, two swimming pools, a gym and a jacuzzi on the property. Many players live on the premises and are able to walk to the barn in the mornings, watch games from their balcony and feel the fantastic breeze off of the ocean. In addition, swimming the horses at Loon Point Beach is a favorite activity of many who come for the summer.

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Offering polo for players of all levels and ages, from beginner through high-goal, SBPRC is incredibly diverse. Players return to Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, year after year, because of the convivial atmosphere the club provides. For more information visit their website, follow them on Instagram and “Like” them on Facebook for up-to-date schedules of tournaments and events.